Romance Novel Giveaways - Freebies and Giveaways of All Things Romance Romance Novel Giveaways: Where Your Treasure Is by M. C. Bunn 💕 Fun Facts, Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Historical Romance)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Where Your Treasure Is by M. C. Bunn 💕 Fun Facts, Book Tour & Gift Card Giveaway 💕 (Historical Romance)



Feisty, independent heiress Winifred de la Coeur has never wanted to live according to someone else’s rules—but even she didn’t plan on falling in love with a bank robber.

Winifred is a wealthy, nontraditional beauty who bridles against the strict rules and conventions of Victorian London society. When she gets caught up in the chaos of a bungled bank robbery, she is thrust unwillingly into an encounter with Court Furor, a reluctant getaway driver and prizefighter. In the bitter cold of a bleak London winter, sparks fly.

Winifred and Court are two misfits in their own circumscribed worlds—the fashionable beau monde with its rigorously upheld rules, and the gritty demimonde, where survival often means life-or-death choices.

Despite their conflicting backgrounds, they fall desperately in love while acknowledging the impossibility of remaining together. Returning to their own worlds, they try to make peace with their lives until a moment of unrestrained honesty and defiance threatens to topple the deceptions they have carefully constructed to protect each other.

A story of the overlapping entanglements of Victorian London’s social classes, the strength of family bonds and true friendship, and the power of love to heal a broken spirit.

I’m not sure how many fun facts there were for women in the 19th century, probably why some of them were willing to be jailed, go on hunger strikes, and then force fed to get their voting rights—but that’s another topic and perhaps a book. It’s ironic that an era whose injustices toward women are insupportable to us is so wildly popular as a romantic setting. Yet I’ve always been fascinated with those times—the clothes, furnishings, ballrooms; the manners that restrict dialogue between the sexes and mold it, as surely as a set of stays compresses a woman’s waist, into artificial, highly-charged, erotic repartee. 

Enjoying the most attractive trappings of the Victorian world can be rather like enjoying a three-star restaurant at a luxurious tourist site without following the pot-washers and cleaning staff home. We do want to know, don’t we, what happens downstairs, not just in the ballroom? We do care, right?

Winifred de la Coeur thinks she does. Then, she meets Court Furor. Nothing could prepare a Hampstead heiress for a desperate man from London’s vilest slum, the Old Nichol.

Research may not sound like much fun, but it can topple writers down some fascinating rabbit holes, the sort that really bring a book’s world to life. I had a lot of fun with maps and old photographs, diaries, and books about early automobiles.

I’m an inveterate scourer of footnotes, end notes, bibliographies, and annotations, the sort of data that’s tempting to skim or skip when I’m caught up in a topic. But I always go back and dig through them. It’s from others’ hard work that I’ve gleaned so many of the background details that, while they don’t always end up in my writing, certainly inform it and have inspired plot twists and even other stories. I’m not a historian, so I take advantage of what the professionals have to offer.

Where Your Treasure Is has many traditional romance elements. An unfulfilled, wealthy spinster literally falls into the arms of a dangerous man whose body is his best weapon, and who has every reason to do his worst to the lady in his power. I spent some fascinated hours re-reading books like Daniel Pool’s What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (1993) and Unmentionable by Therese Oneill (2016), among many, many others about jewels, Victorian undergarments, birth control, syphilis, youth gangs, explosives, country houses, Grand Tours, opera. I also watched a lot of boxing and live horse races. From the drawing room to the bedroom and beyond!

As for Treasure’s setting, the action opens in November 1892. Fans of Sherlock Holmes and Miss Scarlet and the Duke will recognize Treasure’s London, which is roughly a decade later than those series’ era. Its Norfolk is an amalgam of scenes I visited. 

As a sort of behind-the-scenes glimpse, when I was much younger, I had my own upstairs versus downstairs experience of England. Within the space of a year, I danced at an Oxford ball, enjoyed a lord and lady’s hospitality, worked as a chambermaid, and got kicked off a bus, miles from the next town. It was the best and worst of times, and I wouldn’t change a bit of it.




Chapter 3

To Virgins, to Make Much of Time


With a howl, the man flung the wash jug against the wall. Winifred stopped crying. A mess of cheap, broken china scattered the floor. Water dribbled down the wall. The man clutched the washstand, his head bowed. “I wanted to wear you out, so’s I could get some rest. You’re so pig-’eaded! I wasn’t goin’ to ’urt you. Couldn’t you see that?” 


“No,” she answered in a small voice. “You’re too rough.” 


The man nodded and offered a rag from the basin. She shook her head. “I don’t mean to be. I likes softness. I wants it, but it’s roughness I’m used to.” 


Winifred considered what “softness” might mean to him. “Well, it’s not the way I’m used to being treated.” 


Court heard the quiet defiance and liked her for it. She refused to be broken. He felt in his pocket for his neckerchief and dipped it in the basin. “Your face, let me see what I done.” 


“No, don’t!” Her voice wavered. 


Court knelt, holding out both his hands. He edged forward very slowly, coming at her from the side. She pressed as far back as possible into the corner and lifted her chin, grimacing and eyeing him with equal caution. Suddenly, he had her. “Let me see,” he said in his low, gruff voice. 


“Oh, that stings!” Wincing, she tried to push away his hand. He ignored this. His touch was assured, his tone dry and matter-of-fact…Winifred drew the other blanket around her and huddled inside her cloak. Long minutes passed.


How strange that out of that human tide, this one soul and hers had been swept together. She took off her cloak and tapped his arm. 


Court sat up. “What? ’Ere, don’t cry! Geoff won’t be back for ages.” 


She wiped her cheeks and held out her cloak. “I’m not! It’s the cold. Here, take half.” 


Court was surprised, not to mention grateful. He felt in his pocket for his neckerchief. “You’re not afraid o’ much, are you? Too spoiled or too stupid, I’ll be bound. Not many could’ve stood up to Geoff in that alley. And you gave me ’ell!” He smiled and touched the tip of her nose with the wet cloth, and she gave the smallest smile in return. “There now, that’s better.” 


The woman raised her eyes. “You’re not going to let me go, are you?” she whispered. 


Court dabbed gently at the bright welt. He almost wished he had never seen those eyes—almost, but not quite. “I can’t.”



  

M. C. Bunn is a writer of Victorian romance and historical romance novels, a singer (in the indie rock band Mister Felix), and a songwriter. She holds an English degree from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s in English from North Carolina State University.

"I've always loved writing. It's a joy to do what makes me happy and to share it.

“My father was a great story-teller. He read to us at the dinner table and passed on his love of history. He’d haul me out of bed in the middle of the night if there was a great old movie on the late show, and family trips always included visits to historic sites. His father was born in 1888, and I have Granddaddy's letters to his bride-to-be in my dresser. I'm working on the story of Daddy's first ancestor in America. It's set in Jamestown, 1690. My mother's grandmother was placed in an orphanage after the Civil War because her father died on the way home, so I always felt that connection to and had a curiosity about the past. Both of my parents read to me before I could walk. Daddy gave me Dickens, Twain, and Stevenson. Mama put the dictionary in my hands and let me watch I, Claudius and Shoulder to Shoulder when they first aired on Masterpiece Theatre. She told me I'd be a writer one day.”

Acting was another girlhood passion. “I wanted to play all the characters in the books I'd read, or in the stories I made up, like Dickens and Louisa May Alcott did. I also wanted to be an archaeologist because we knew one who worked on digs in Israel. There was never a time when I wasn't making up a story, and it was always set 'a long time ago.' What I really wished for was the car in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, so I could fly back in time and see what it was actually like for women in Victorian and Edwardian England.”

When she's not writing, she loves reading long old books. "I love Anthony Trollope's series, and Anna Karenina. Of more recent vintage, I really enjoyed The Forsyte Saga and The Raj Quartet."

Her idea of a well-appointe room includes multiple bookshelves, a full pot of coffee, and a place to lie down and read. To feed her soul, she takes a walk or makes music with friends. "I try to remember to look up at the sky and take some time each day to be thankful."

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and their dog. Where Your Treasure Is is her first published novel.


    


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31 comments :

  1. M. C. Bunn
    Thank you for hosting me today, and I look forward to meeting your readers! Contact me with your comments and questions. If I don't answer right away, I'll be back and get to them. Happy reading!

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  2. Winifred sounds like a fun, sassy girl! Congrats on your debut novel!

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    1. M. C. Bunn
      In many ways, Winifred's hopes for herself in terms of marriage and family are in line with the societal expectations of her era. It's her ability to take risks within that framework, fully cognizant of the potential consequences, that makes her stand out. So glad you stopped by today! Thank you.

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  3. M. C. Bunn
    Thank you, I love it too! We had another cover that was beautiful but not quite "Winifred" enough. After searching through art from the late Victorian-early Edwardian period we found Giovanni Boldini's painting. The rich color of the dress reminded me of the diamond in Winifred's necklace--unique, one-of-a-kind, like her.

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  4. I love the cover and the excerpt.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting! It's always fun to use dialogue. Characters may not be able to say exactly what they're feeling or thinking. In this case, they're internally conflicted, at cross-purposes with one another, and in danger!

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  5. this cover is absolutely amazing!!! looks appropriate!

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    1. I'll always be grateful to my publisher, Bellastoria Press, for allowing me input on the cover design. It had to set the tone, not only for Where Your Treasure Is, but the books that will follow. I'd recently read The Man in the Red Coat by Julian Barnes, and its cover image by John Singer Sargent, a contemporary of the artist Giovanni Boldini, stayed with me. I recognized Boldini's style when my publisher sent "The Black Sash" as a cover possibility. Sure enough, another of Boldini's portraits (Count Robert de Montesquiou) was in Barnes' book. After searching for more of Boldini's paintings, I found this lovely, rather unfinished one--and we had our Winifred! I hope you'll enjoy reading the book as well. Thank you for your comment!

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  6. M. C. Bunn
    Thank you for following the tour. I enjoyed writing this chapter because it's the first time readers see the main characters interacting with one another. Winifred has her agenda, which is completely in conflict with Court's, and each of them is internally conflicted as well--yet they're both in great danger. Get to know them better in Chapters 1-2, which you can preview on my website. Lovers' Day and the book release is tomorrow! Celebrate!

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  7. This sounds like such a good book! I'm so excited to read it.

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    1. I enjoy long books with lots of characters, and details that create another world (or make me see this one in a new way). The past is another country, but sometimes we find ourselves in the characters we meet there. Many happy hours of reading to you!

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  8. Happy Earth Day! Thank you for sharing your fun facts and book details. I love the cover and synopsis and am looking forward to reading this story, it sounds wonderful!

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    1. M. C. Bunn
      Let's celebrate Earth every day! It's a pleasure to share with enthusiastic readers!

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  9. Maybe one should plan on falling in love with a bank robber. Sounds like a heck of a plan.

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    Replies
    1. M. C. Bunn
      Unless he's got a permanent hole in his pocket, like Court. Just wait until you meet the other fellows Court is driving in his hackney! Cheers!

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  10. Sounds so good and the cover is wonderful.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, especially as it is launch day for the book! Celebrate Lovers' Day with a romantic read and discover a new treasure!

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  11. I like how the cover resembles an oil painting.

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    Replies
    1. M. C. Bunn
      You are exactly right! It is a painting. My publisher, Bellastoria Press, did a beautiful job capturing the lush, vibrant hues of Giovanni Boldini's original. Boldini was a society portrait painter, and though this work has an unfinished quality, it perfectly evokes Winifred.

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  12. Replies
    1. M. C. Bunn
      Thank you so much! When I found this picture, it was as though Boldini had seen Winifred. The cover is a window into a private moment with the heroine. Which moment? What piece of music is she playing? What is her mood? Who is looking at her, or watching her? You can preview Chapters 1-2 on my website. "Look inside" to find out!

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  13. Replies
    1. M. C. Bunn
      We do too, and the actual book feels like the satin of the dress! Winifred is musical, so there is a playlist on the website to evoke scenes and characters. Also featured is the fabulous jewel (photo art by Crimson Reach). When we first saw Boldini's painting, we knew we'd found a match for Winifred and her unique diamond! Thank you for stopping by!

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  14. Winifred sounds like a fun character!

    Congratulations on the publication of your first book!

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    Replies
    1. M. C. Bunn
      Winifred was indeed fun to write. She is a woman of strong appetites, passions, contradictions, and surprises. A true de la Coeur! Thank you writing, and happy reading.

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  15. I love the cover. The artwork and colors are amazing.

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  16. M. C. Bunn
    Thank you, and thanks to the artist Giovanni Boldini. The color of the dress, even the unfinished quality of this work compared to others Boldini painted, are perfectly suited to Winifred. Many of Boldini's society portraits are obviously painted to flatter their subjects. This painting stands out not only because of its bold color and rougher execution, but because of its difference from his other works. It is like Winifred among her social peers--unique.

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  17. Your books all look amazing thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. M. C. Bunn
      Thank you so much for the encouragement, and I hope you'll enjoy Where Your Treasure Is. It's a pleasure to share with readers!

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